Thursday, August 31, 2006

Visit to Sycamore

As promised earlier this week. Here's a flickr collection of the next stop on our summer vacation. We spent a night in Sycamore IL and visited with my Aunt Mary and Uncle Ollie (my grandfathers brother) as well as my Aunt Carole (my father's brothers wife). We also stopped in the cemetary to visit some other Carpenters.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ok, one more shot of Sam jammin to Hangin Around. I think we may actually have a rock star here..... Posted by Picasa
Loud Bang in the Night

Most of the old Wilson Bridge was blown up last night at 12:30 am and woke both Nicole and I up. It kind of sounded like someone was dragging furniture across the deck out side our bedroom, just really loudly. We live a good three miles from the bridge and I was kind of surprised how loud the explosion was to tell you the truth. I noticed on Mike Lee's blog, that he stayed up to watch it on TV. He got some still shots of the big event here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Here's a picture from Kumie's flickr account that shows Dylan (in the black shirt) jammin with Dan. I think they believed they were really playing. Got to have twin equity on this blog. They get offended if one of them makes it and not the other one.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

One of Kathy B's friends took this picture at the concert last night. It shows Sam on a monitor like Uncle Adam jammin out. He didn't get a real good shot of Dylan but I may post it anyway.
Perparing to Rock

The boys couldn't wait to get up on stage last night and play their guitars. In fact, they were a little annoying about it. Here they are warming up for the gig before the doors to Nissan Pavilion opened and Immy's mandolin storage case where we decided to such high powered instruments should be stored. The concert was really fun and Sam and Dylan really hammed it up for the crowd. Sam almost stage dived, running toward the crowd a couple times and did things like put one foot up on the monitor at one point and jumped up on top of monitor at another. Dylan looked like he was really concentrating on playing the guitar and they both waved to the crowd when the song was over. Oh yeah, Adam ran into one of them and they both fell at one point but it was alright, they made it look planned.

They were exhausted by the end and pretty much fell asleep after that.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Flickr Sets - Chicago

I started creating sets of pictures from the two week trek accross middle America. I already posted the Mad River RR Museum and this is our next next stop, Chicago's Navy Pier, Hancock Building and Science and Industry Museum.

I'll continue with sets from Dekalb, Green Bay, Door County and Lake Geneva soon. We are off to the Crows concert now and I'll probably have shots of Kumie rockin out in a little while.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Home, yes home. We did the final 270 miles this morning and got home to a yard that hasn't seen rain in 14 days. I started watering immediately. The final leg of our tour went pretty well and I think the boys were actually getting used to long drives. Today's was only 4 and a half hours but they didn't have any melt downs. I did make them listen to the 70's channel on XM Satelite Radio for an hour or so. What was cool about that, was that it was the same music I used to listen to in the 70's when I was traveling cross country with my parents and siblings. The Crows are in town tomorrow so we will be heading out to the show at Nissan Pavilion in the afternoon. The boys are bringing their little guitars with them to play during Hangin Around. Should be cute if they are able to stay up till 11. Linda got this shot in Lake Geneva. I think Nicole liked the lake the most.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sponge bob racing

Sponge bob racing
Originally uploaded by homerclees.
Here's sam driving the sponge bob race car. He could definitely beat kumie and that ghetto car of hers. We made the the 525 mile trip in about 10 hours and are back in cranberry township pa.

Dylan was wondered why I didn't have any pictures of him on the blog in the last couple days or at least why the last two were Sam. Here he is checking out some lake creature. It's been raining all night with lot of lightning and thunder. This is going to be a long drive if this keeps up.  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

We all slept in a little late today, maybe because we know we have a long drive tomorrow. We ended up going into town to the beach for a couple hours where Sam pretended to be a monster fish. We tried going to Big Foot State Park but that beach was really bad. It was more like a ribbon of sand next to a road. It's been a nice vacation but it's coming to an end soon. Back to DC tomorow.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Here's a boy, (I'm not telling which one) jumping from the boat we rented into Lake Geneva. We went out on a speed boat this morning for about 2 hours to tour the lake and do a little swimming. The boys each got to drive the boat and loved the cool, refreshing lake water. I think this was the first time on a speed boat and I think they liked it more than Go-Karts.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 21, 2006

On the way down to Lake Geneva, we stopped at the Brown County Fair in Green Bay. Not a real big fair but it has a bunch of kiddie rides to tire the boys out for the rest of the trip south. We arrived in LG around 5:30 and went out to dinner with Linda and Gil. It just so happened to be the last day of Venetian Fest here in LG and we were treated to fireworks after dinner. We got a good nights sleep and now we are off to find Go Karts or some sort of car racing for the boys. The place here at the Geneva National Golf Club is nice. The golf courses look fantastic and make me wish I would have brought the clubs. The Door County courses looked pretty good too but no time for golf.  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 20, 2006

We had a very nice dinner at the Alpine Lodge last night. It was on the water in Egg Harbor and very German. Build in 1922, it really hasn't changed much. They had a nice little four piece band that played songs from the 50 and 60's in a nice dinner music kind of way and boys were on their best behaviour. I think the combination of white table clothes and a dinner band made them realize they couldn't throw things at cousin Finn. Everybody is gone now and we are off to the Brown County fair for a quick stop then heading down to Lake Geneva. Not too much driving today.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Cousins bahaving badly. It's impossible to get four toddlers to all smile at once but getting them to make funny faces doesn't seem to be a problem. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 18, 2006

A peaceful sunset on Green Bay. Brandt cracked his head open in the pool yesterday and had to have seven stitches but we all had a nice dinner in town and then went down to the marina to play on the jungle gym. When I get a chance, I'll post the pictures from the Farm we went to yesterday as well. Good times... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Yes, we forced the children to risk life and limb for a picture. Not really, this is the floor of the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago. We got to Egg Harbor yesterd and are all ready for a few days out of the car. Very nice up here, the air is crisp and clean and the nights are quiet. We had dinner in Grandma and Grandpa condo and walked into town for some icecream. The boys chased Finn around around and Mae chased them. They were really tired when they went to bed but woke up asking for Finn again. Don't know what we are doing today but I'm sure I'll have pictures. I did take a bunch at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay yesterday that I'll have to upload sometime in the next couple days. More soon... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

This is Sam telling Curly Lambeau that the Vikings are going to kick some butt this year. We are off to the National Railroad Museum today and then to Egg Harbor. Not much driving.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Oh yeah, I forgot we went to Burger King today. Who's the king that can do anything? Posted by Picasa
Green Bay Packers

We made the trip from Dekalb to Green Bay in about 4 hours and got her around 1pm. The Tundra Lodge is about a half mile from Lambeau Field and has an incredible water park attached to it. All indoors with giants slides, lazy rivers and water guns. We played in that for about two hours and then went over to Lambeau for a a tour and to watch the damn Packers ride kids bikes to the practice field. It was entertaining but the Vikings will still kick their butts this season. I have a suspect internet connection right now so I'm not sure I will get any pictures up but I thought I would try a text post anyway.

Tomorrow, Fish Harbor.

Nicole at the Sycamore Museum. Posted by Picasa

Dylan saying hi to his Great Grandma and Grandpa.  Posted by Picasa

Mary and the boys Posted by Picasa

Ollie and the boys Posted by Picasa


We left chicago this morning around ten and drove out to sycamore/dekalb. We got here around noon and stopped at the cemetary where many of the the Carpenters are buried to say hi to Gladys and Leroy. The boys climbed all over the stones, which their great grandmother would have loved. We had lunch in Mary and Ollies backyard and then went to the brand new sycamore museum where they had a bunch of kids exhibits for the boys to play with. Mary and Ollie are the boys great aunt and uncle. We had dinner with Mary, Ollie and Aunt Carole and now the boys are in bed watching Shrek Two.

The internet connection is down at the hotel so I'm doing this update on my phone. I took a ton of pictures but i'll have to post them tomorrow. Time for bed.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Museum of Science and Industry

Busy Day in Chicago with a visit to the observation deck of the John Hancock building at 9am and then off to the Museum of Science and Industry to see the whole bunch of cool stuff. I visited this museum as a kid and remember the captured German submarine U505. Of course when I was there, the sub was outside and you didn't need a tour pass to walk thru it. Anyway, they moved it indoors and we didn't get in it because you had to reserve a time. The museum was fantastic for kids with a ton of things for them to fiddle with. Tractors, trains, planes and the human heart. Good times... We had lunch at the ESPN Zone so that we could play video games and then the boys had a nice nap.

We found a nice park a block from the hotel a block off Michigan before dinner. We had pizza and pasta at an old pizza joint on N. State Street and then got ice cream again. It's been a nice couple days here and the boys really like the taxi car rides. Sam said he wanted to live here and have Grandma and Grandpa visit and do new things. I posted a collection from the Mad River Railroad Museum on Flickr. I got a good shot or two. Enjoy. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Well, another day and 400 more miles. We arrived in Chicago around 6pm and headed down to Navy Pier for dinner and to look for a video arcade so the boys could play cars again. No luck on the cars but dinner worked our pretty well. We stopped in Bellevue Ohio to see the Mad River Railroad Museum at about noon and had a nice picnic at a local elementary school. The boys were good at times and really annoying at others during the 8 hours of driving today. Fortuneatly, we are not doing anything near 8 hours on the road until the very end of the trip. We have a couple days in Chicago, a 90 mile trip to Dekalb and a couple 3-4 hour drives in Wisconsin. Piece of cake... Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 11, 2006

Captology Notebook

Oh yeah, I've started posting on the Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab blog. I'm starting slow with some examples of products that have persuasive intent for older adults. Nothing earth shattering at this point but it's a start. I should be posting one a day for a week or two. Then, who knows what you will find there.

Check out my first two posts at

Comments are always welcome.

Here's an interesting drive by shot from the first leg of our trip. 18th century barn, 21st century wind farm and a pro-life billboard. Yes we are in Western PA. We made the 270 mile journey to Cranberry Township PA in around 6 hours due to a car exploding in front of us on 270, just outside DC. It cost us a bit of time to say the least. Our friends arrived at the house to take care of the cats and enjoy DC for a couple weeks right after we left so the kitty's should be fine during our trip. Tomorrow we are off to the Mad River Railroad Museum in Bellevue Ohio and then to Chicago for a couple days.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Washington Photo Safari

I finally took the photography class Nicole gave me for our 5th anniversary on Wednesday. It was a perfect day for it with a high in the mid 80's and almost no humidity. Basically, a group of eight of us met in front of the white house and got some basic instructions on taking good pictures and then went off and hit a number of spots near the White House, on the mall and inside Union Station.

The instructor has the same Nikon D70 camera that I have and taught me how to use all those features I didn't understand because I really didn't read the instructions very closely, or at all.. It was a really useful day and will help me get better shots of the boys and scenery during our summer vacation. I plan on taking a lot of pictures.

I didn't get any spectacular shots but thought I would post them anyway. Among the shots is the White House, Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park, Albert Einstein, the soldiers statue and the Women's memorial at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and Union Station.

It was fun and I may have to take another class or two. Enjoy a taste of DC.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Saxy Tuesday

Nicole lent her sax to a friend's son a few years ago and got it back unexpectedly today. The boys think it's pretty cool even if Nicole can't seem to play a note anymore. They may have a career as underwear wearing sax players someday.

Belle Haven Country Club

Belle Haven Country Club
Originally uploaded by homerclees.
Having a pretty good round. Nice day for golf anyway. This is looking down the 18th fairway.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Busy Days

I've been falling down on my blogging the last few days. I've been busy with the boys, the Stanford project and the job search. We are also heading out on vacation soon and have a ton of things to do to get ready for that too. I have a photo class on Wednesday morning that Nicole gave me for our anniversary. It meets on the mall and tours the monuments, working on out door shots and then goes inside to Union Station to learn how to shot in door spaces. Should be fun and provide lots of good photos for this blog.

I'm golfing tomorrow at Belle Haven CC with a guy I know who just started a new business in DC. I've been wanting to play Belle Haven for a while now and it will be good to connect again with Barkley.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Golf yesterday

Golf yesterday
Originally uploaded by homerclees.
I played a hot round of golf yesterday and shot a decent 88 but Brian ocheljeck shot an 84 and beat me. He's been practicing so I don't feel bad.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Video of Strasburg

I posted some video on Google of our train rides in Strasburg last weekend. It's not very good quality and I'm still trying to find the right video compression settings that Google will accept and produce a good picture. Oh well, maybe next time or I might try to upload a better version later today. Anyway, it's hot outside and I've been staying inside as much as possible. Have a golf game tomorrow but it's suppose to be cooler, so I have that going for me.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Why Navigation is a Good Thing

So our trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country was a successful test of our longer vacation yet to come and the first outing for the new mini-van. I've had navigation on the last two Acura's I've had and have learned to rely on it to get me to golf courses and other new destinations but the last van didn't have it. The trip to Hershey was the first time I left the metro area with navigation and the kids and I must say, it was a relief.

First of all, I love the ability to not have to plan routes so carefully in advance and the ability to watch the progress of the trip in real time. You can easily spot the next gas station, restaurant or way side rest without worrying how far the next stop will be if you go past this one. But the best part of navigation is the release of navigation stress. Yes, relying on technology to free your mind from worrying where to turn next or constantly checking your map to see if you were suppose to go through a particular town or not. It's technology at it's best when the technology takes away stress and lets you take in the scenery or listen to your children in the back seat as they see new things.

After the Strasburg Railway stop on Saturday, we started home to Virginia. I came up Interstate 83 to get to the are and assumed we would go back that way. I told the system to go back home to Alexandria and it came with another plan, one that would take us through more Amish country and to the shores of the Susquehanna River (or as Dylan and Sam say it, Susquemomma) and over to Interstate 95. Pennsylvania roads do not go north, south, east or west. They go all sorts of diagonal ways that would have had me checking the map constantly, either while I was driving or pulling off the road. It was beautiful countryside and I would have missed a lot worrying about the right turn to take or if I would have just gotten us back to 83 and headed south. I simply let the car tell me what to do and talked with Dylan and Sam about the scenery or with Nicole when the boys started watching a movie.

The system would talk with me about a mile before I had to do something and I had the visual queue in front of me at all times which reassured me I was doing the right thing. The end result was seeing a whole new part of Pennsylvania and being much less stressed during the trip. I highly recommend navigation to traveling families. New routes, no wrong turns, no arguments about wrong turns, more time to enjoy the ride. Take a map just in case...